DIY Mud Cloth Pillow

diy mudcloth pillow

In recent months, I’ve seen mud cloth really taking off, replacing (or adding to) a lot of the shibori patterns we’ve been seeing everywhere for the last few years.  Although I certainly love the look of vintage mud cloth its ridiculously expensive.  I found one yard of mud cloth fabric at a Paris flea market last spring for $299 euro! Yikes!

What is so beautiful about the patterns is the raw textures and dying in super simple shapes.  It’s a very graphic, but organic addition to the rest of the patterns in our homes.  I’ve seen mud cloth in various shades of black, brown, tan, and cream – with the basic black and white being my favorite. I thought it was about time I gave this trend a little DIY treatment with my favorite go-to method. 

While traditional mud cloth is made in Mali, West Africa with the cloth woven by the men, then dyed by the women.  They actually apply mud to the negative space to the cloth, let the mud dry, then rinse and do it again and again in the same exact pattern to get the color richer and richer.  It makes sense why patterns are kept fairly simple because doing the whole design over and over is quite painstaking!

We’re going to actually do the opposite of tradition and remove color from an already dyed piece of fabric to get this mud cloth inspired design.


I  like to keep things easy on myself… I used just two linen dinner napkins from Crate & Barrel for the base and a simple bleach pen to create the design.

diy mudcloth pillow - materials

diy mudcloth pillow - design

First, I researched mud cloth online and found a few easy patterns that I could repeat throughout the pillow.  The bleach was left to sit for a few hours (first it turns pink, then white if it sits long enough).  I then rinsed out the napkin and made sure all of the bleach was out.  Then I dried the napkin in the dryer.

diy mudcloth pillow - rinse

diy mudcloth pillow - cut

Once you’re ready to create the pillow, take your other napkin and cut it in half.  Lay the halved napkin on top of the patterned napkin with both face sides facing each other inside of the pillow (inside out).  Be sure that the two cut edges are on the OUTSIDE and two finished edges are overlapping in the center of the pillow.

mudcloth pillow diy - back

mudcloth pillow diy - sew

Then, sew around the entire perimeter of the napkins.  This creates a pillow with a slit/overlap back closure.  Easy, huh?

I will saw that the bleach spread out a lot more than I thought, so place your designs more spread apart than what you’d like.


I think it turned out wonderful!!!  I love the addition to my bedroom and think I’m going to make a few more for the dining room bench as well.

I hope you enjoyed this easy and fun DIY mud cloth pillow and your mind is swirling with ways you can do this in your own life!  Maybe it isn’t mud cloth, but maybe you have another pattern you’ve been eyeing?


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